You can always judge how much Nintendo's eShop teams enjoy an upcoming release by the amount of support it receives at the big N's expo booths, social media channels and more. On those criteria Nintendo's staff clearly adore Runbow, as the colourful nine-player Wii U eShop title has had plenty of encouragement and exposure. It's not just a party game, though, as solo players also have an adventure mode or online multiplayer options.
Most reading this page have likely already had a go of Runbow courtesy of its appearance in the E3 [email protected] promotion. With the title getting closer to release we thought it was a good time to catch up with 13AM Games, so posed some questions to Creative Director and Designer Alex Rushdy; we talk about modes, the eShop in general, [email protected] and more.
Read on to learn why Runbow is worth having on your wishlist.
We suspect most of our readers have heard plenty about 13AM Games, but for those that haven't can you introduce yourselves?
We're 13AM Games- an upstart game developer based in Toronto, Canada. We're a 9-man team and Runbow will be our first game.
Our office is loud.
In terms of Runbow, let's kick off with your basic summary / pitch, how would you describe this briefly to those that are curious?
Runbow is an (up to) 9-player platform racing game. The world changes with each swipe of the background colour, so if you cannot see something, it doesn't exist. Four local multiplayer modes, two single player modes, a gallery full of content and online play.
With single player, can you outline the available modes and talk a little about how prominent (or otherwise) the solo experience is as part of the whole package?
We have two single player modes; Adventure and The Bowhemoth.
Adventure is kind of your classic single-player story, but with a twist: In order to gain access to the final boss, Satura, you have to complete the four Satura Challenges across four areas (Big House Break Out, Forgotten Forest, Lost Luau and Monster Manor). The unique part is that the map is laid out on a grid with over 140 challenges and you can carve your way through it and take on those four Satura challenges in whatever order you wish!
Each individual challenge ranges from "Reach the Trophy," "Defeat all enemies," and "Collect Runbucks." Meeting one of the three time requirements set for the level nets you 1, 2, or 3 medals - which unlock content in Runbow's Gallery. Beating the Satura challenges of each area also gives you a special costume for Hue and Val themed to that map.
The Bowhemoth is one continuous gauntlet of super-difficult challenges that you must complete in one sitting. It tracks your time and your deaths, so you can not only aim to complete it, but aim to complete it well. You receive a special bonus for beating it, and another special bonus for beating it in under 20 minutes or less than 10 deaths.
In addition to all of this, we have a variety of Records (our own take on achievements) and unlockables to keep you coming back to these modes. Beating the modes is one thing, but completing them is another thing entirely.
We feel like there is a lot of single player content to enjoy and we guarantee that beating it all will make you a powerful multiplayer opponent!**
Oh and, naturally, all of our single-player content can be played with up to 9 people cooperatively!
The Bowhemoth mode sounds particularly brutal; do you hope to see that become a bit of a speedrunner's favourite in the future?
The Bowhemoth was built with speedrunners in mind. There are all sorts of techniques to get through the Bowhemoth as quickly as possible, and we reward players for trying to find them.
We hope that people will post their best times to Miiverse and compare!
Shifting to multiplayer, can you again outline some modes for us?
There's our classic, Run, which is the flagship mode the game was based around. A fast-paced free-for-all race for up to 9 people. First one to the trophy gets a point, most points wins!
Once you're comfortable with Run, we recommend changing it up and trying our ColourMaster. This mode takes Run, and teams up 8 runners against one player on the GamePad. The Run Team now has to stay together and get as many runners into the trophy as possible, while the ColourMaster tries to take them out using bombs, lightning, paint blobs and other fiendish attacks. It puts a whole new dynamic on the game, and it's a great way to get new players in and having fun.
After months of building the game, sitting down and playing a 100-Round Arena was the most we'd ever laughed.
Our combat-focused modes, Arena and King of the Hill, are totally different way of playing. Using your attacks (Uppercut, Dash, and Butt Pound) the goal is to be the last man standing in Arena, or to control the hill in King of the Hill. These modes test different play styles and offer a totally different challenge. A great way to get better at the real core mechanics of the game.
Each of these modes lets you pick the music, colour palette, number of rounds (up to 100) and even the types of Power-Ups you can use. We'll give you a little tip: if you've only got two or three people playing, we highly recommend setting the Power-Up set to Swappers Only. You'll figure out why pretty quick.
Which mode do you think groups will naturally play the most; will running modes be the focus, or do you think most will prefer Arena scraps?
It's hard to say! We have obviously played a lot of Run - more than any other mode. But recently we've been enjoying Arena the most, mixed in with the occasional game of King of the Hill to change the pace. After months of building the game, sitting down and playing a 100-Round Arena was the most we'd ever laughed.
Our most popular mode at shows so far has actually been ColorMaster. It's a lot fun, especially with a big group of people.
So I think that depending on the number of people you have over will kind of determine which mode you will prefer. King of the Hill and Arena tend to work really well with lower numbers while Run and ColourMaster shine with a full nine.
You've previously outlined uses of the Wii U GamePad, for example in Colourmaster; what's your favourite use of the controller in the game, and can you talk us through some fresh features?
The GamePad only features prominently in ColourMaster, but I think a mechanic that really makes use of the whole GamePad is the Grey Man, a little runner that you place on the battlefield and can control for a short period of time.
In ColourMaster, players can drag attacks down onto the screen. Some of these Power-Ups require precision: Paint Blobs erase coloured platforms they're placed on and Bombs detonate where they are dropped. Some of these Power-Ups are global, and don't require accuracy with the GamePad, like Lightning or Controller Scramble. The Grey Man requires accuracy AND the ability to switch between the touch screen and the face buttons instantly. He doesn't last long but he can really embarrass the Run Team. To place a Bomb and a well-timed Grey Man to knock players back into the explosion radius is a move so difficult and so satisfying… it's the type of play style that makes the Grey Man one of the deepest things to master in Runbow.
We also offer constant off-TV play, which really helps with a local party game of this size. The player with the GamePad has their own screen and can sit wherever they want while everyone else crowds around the TV.
With there be online multiplayer for those that struggle to get 9 players together?
Absolutely! You can play Run, Arena and King of the Hill online in either private or public parties.
Bringing the focus to the Wii U as a platform, what prompted you to choose Nintendo's system?
We wanted to make Runbow a huge multiplayer experience, something the size of which we had never seen. It didn't hurt that Nintendo immediately loved the game and has been incredibly supportive of us since day one.
When we go to parties it's always the Wii U that's out entertaining everyone. People that have the console know that it has the software that brings people together and makes them laugh. Since this is the experience we want for Runbow, it seemed a pretty natural fit.
How would you describe your working experience so far with Nintendo, and can you talk a little about how you came to be involved in [email protected] during E3?
Nintendo has been incredibly supportive of us. They've really pulled out all the stops getting Runbow in front of people and audiences all around the world. As I'm typing this, Dave and Justin are getting ready to go to Gamescom, where Runbow will be featured on the Nintendo Show Floor.
The [email protected] project was something Damon Baker mentioned he'd been working on for a long time. Since we'd never seen anything like that before on Nintendo or on any other platform, we jumped at the chance to be the first ones through the gate. It was a challenge to pull the demo together in the time we had, but watching all the let's plays on YouTube of people playing the Event Preview has really made all the work worth it.
There are a host of familiar cameos such as Shovel Knight and CommanderVideo, how did this come together?
We owe some of that gratitude to Nintendo. We came up with a wishlist of developers that we love and admire, and Nintendo helped facilitate conversations with about 90% of the list. From the get go we wanted Runbow, our first game, to be a celebration of games we love and the spirit of community that local multiplayer games inspire. We're pretty lucky to be here in Toronto where the indie scene is so supportive of one another. It was the kind of atmosphere and attitude we wanted to bring back to the industry when we got started, so we just started asking people if they wanted to join the run. The really humbling thing is when that 90% of the list started responding and saying they'd like to work with us. We feel incredibly lucky.
It's striking that there seems to be a strong camaraderie among eShop developers, what are your thoughts on that?
I think it goes deeper than just the eShop: I think we all know we're stronger together than we are alone, and that anything good for the industry is good for everyone. This is why developers seem so quick to champion games that are innovative or interesting, or made by people who want to affect positive change in our industry.
A love of games is something you share with people: even people who play alone reach out to communities and forums, or other gamer friends. We are an industry of people who love games, and I think there's a mutual respect for the work that goes into that love.
We are an industry of people who love games, and I think there's a mutual respect for the work that goes into that love.
Fast-paced multiplayer games seem to be on-trend in download gaming right now, do you agree and if so why do you think that is?
I do agree, and I think it's because most large scale developers have kind of gone in a more "cinematic single player experience" route. A lot of big AAA games have that kind of focus right now, so a lot of smaller developers do something that can offer a memorable experience with less resources. Playing with your friends in one night can create those intense memories that a AAA game can over the course of a campaign.
If the goal is to make an impression on people, it's one way to demonstrate how much fun your game can offer pretty quick.
What's your view on the current Wii U eShop library in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
I'm a big fan of the Wii U eShop and the amount of high-quality games on it is growing quickly. I feel like the eShop is nicely filling in the gap left by large third party publishers and it's offering some of the best gaming experiences on Wii U. I've played a lot of eShop games that I enjoyed much more than full-fledged retail games. I hope it continues to grow, and I hope that it can fill in some more of the genre gaps the Wii U has.
There are still some genres that I think could do really well on Wii U eShop (racing, competitive fighting, survival horror, and sports for example), so I'd like to see those spots filled. I also hope more developers have the opportunity to take risks with Wii U GamePad-focused design. Maybe even shelves of games that really use the hardware well… that would keep people trying innovative new games and staying engaged with their Wii U.
Are you confident that the Nintendo audience will embrace Runbow?
I'm pretty confident that Runbow checks off all the marks for a great Nintendo game. We've worked hard to make sure the game has a little bit of something for everyone, both in multiplayer and single player modes, and for new and old gamers alike.
We've all been Nintendo fans since we were kids so we hope that passion is apparent when you play it.
Do you have a final message for our readers?
We'd like to thank Alex Rushdy for his time.